Saturday, May 16, 2009


More about that Ontario case with its Vancouver Special Prosecutor


Christie Blatchford reports again on a trial involving public officials charged with obstruction of justice, breach of trust, fraud, and money-laundering. Mainly, says Blatchford, "offences against the public trust."

Once upon a time, there was a certain logic to publication bans.


The first five allegations all deal one way or another with offences against the public trust, because citizens place their faith in public officials - police, prosecutors, judges, clerks - and trust that they will play fair and square, at the least adhere to the rules that bind the rest of us and that in the justice system, everyone is if not on an exactly level playing field (money does get you good lawyering) on a reasonably even one.

Sgt. Rutigliano is a veteran police officer who managed all OPP court cases being heard in Toronto. His unindicted co-conspirator (meaning he isn't charged but is alleged to have been involved somehow in the conspiracy) is a Toronto prosecutor named Domenic Basile ...

These allegations are a sufficiently big deal that the Ontario Attorney-General has appointed an out-of-province defence lawyer, Richard Peck of Vancouver, to act as a special prosecutor, and a retired judge to monitor the case.

This is explosive stuff and potentially shattering to public confidence in the administration of justice. The questions merely raised by the charges are unsettling: Are cases being fixed? Are prosecutors and cops playing footsie with criminals? What's going on here? ...

Find out more, from The Globe and Mail for May 16, 2009.

After you read Blatchford's special style of explaining the law, the history of law, and the human impact of the law ... I'd like to know how you feel about this: do the Blatchford reports help us evaluate BC Supreme Court's management of the similar (but much more significant) Basi-Virk case? I think yes. The way Blatchford gets right into a trial, assumes that a citizen must understand a trial, and virtually makes that understanding possible, well ... it gets our feet back on solid ground again, in my estimation. But how about you? Would you like to follow this case with Blatchford? - BC Mary


Notes of Alexis de Tocqueville in Lower Canada (Quebec) 1831. Noted in passing: the social historian toured North America for 9 months, observing and reporting to the government of France on prisons, the press, trials, and people. Here in translation are his comments on a civil trial in progress 178 years ago:

Visit of a civil court in Quebec

We came into a large hall divided into tiers crowded with people who seemed altogether French. The British arms were painted in full size on the end of the hall. Beneath them was the judge in robes and bands. The lawyers were ranked in front of him.

When we came into the hall a slander action was in progress. It was a question of fining a man who had called another pendard (gallows-bird) and crasseux (stinker). The lawyer argued in English. Pendard, he said, pronouncing the word with a thoroughly English accent, "meant a man who had been hanged."

"No", the judge solemnly intervened, "but who ought to be".

At that, counsel for the defense got up indignantly and argued his case in French: his adversary answered in English.

The argument waxed hot on both sides in English, no doubt without their understanding each other perfectly. From time to time the Englishman forced himself to put his argument in French so as to follow his adversary more closely; the other did the same sometimes. The judge, sometimes speaking French, sometimes English, endeavored to keep order. The crier of the court called for "silence" giving the word alternatively its English and its French pronunciation.

Calm re-established, witnesses were heard. Some kissed the silver Christ on the Bible and swore in French to tell the truth, the others swore the same oath in English and, as Protestants, kissed the other side of the Bible which was undecorated. The customs of Normandy were cited, reliance placed on Denisart, and mention was made of the decrees of the Parliament of Paris and statutes of the reign of George III.

After that the judge: "Granted that the word crasseux implies that a man is without morality, ill-behaved and dishonorable, I order the defendant to pay a fine of ten louis or ten pounds sterling."

The lawyers I saw there, who are said to be the best in Quebec, gave no proof of talent either in the substance or in the manner of what they said. They were conspicuously lacking in distinction, speaking French with a middle class Norman accent. Their style is vulgar and mixed with odd idioms and English phrases. They say that a man is "charge" of ten louis meaning that he is asked to pay ten louis. "Entrez dan la boite", they shout to a witness, meaning that he should take his place in the witness-box.

There is something odd, incoherent, even burlesque in the whole picture. But at the bottom the impression made was one of sadness. Never have I felt more convinced than when coming out from there, that the greatest and most irremediable ill for a people is to be conquered.


I wonder if my readers will understand why I wanted to share this. What does it have to do with BC Rail, they may well ask. Well, in the present mood, it does connect. It has something to do with May 12, 2009 when we on the West Coast had finished shouting
pendard and crasseux (translated) at one another, explained our hopes and fears, then accepted the verdict by the voters, ending up with a deep sense of sadness for a province conquered. Yes, conquered ... we couldn't save the land we love. That's what "conquered" means, isn't it?

My own daughter is named for a B.C. river ... the Nadina River. She has only one name because we thought nothing else could equal it. It's personal, the way people connect to the landscape. By the way, her husband's name is Fraser. To us, that has a world of meaning ... and we grieve.

I wonder how many other British Columbians are passing through this grieving phase, mourning the loss not of an election but the loss of Beautiful British Columbia itself: its rivers, lakes, the ocean, the wild salmon, its forests, the blue-chip public assets ... lost the whole damn shootin' match. As we work out what we do next, we should begin to talk about that. We have every right to mourn. But, let's never forget ... we did well. We did fabulously well, when all things are considered.

The more I think about it, the more impressed I am by the results won by the Progressives on
May 12, 2009. When we've rested and recovered, let's talk. We absolutely cannot give up now.

- BC Mary.


I wonder if there's a connection between this Sr.Ontario officer and the recently forced to resign top CSIS agent, Jim Judd. Along with former RCMP Comm.Zaccardelli? Maybe, former privacy comm.Radwanski and other heads of the crown....
" because citizens place their faith in public officials - police, prosecutors, judges, clerks - and trust that they will play fair and square, at the least adhere to the rules that bind the rest of us and that in the justice system, everyone is if not on an exactly level playing field (money does get you good lawyering) on a reasonably even one."Well Mary, I guess turning the Legislature Raids into a Humour Coloumn is as good a response to the heinous reality as anything.

If we didn't know that Steve of Ottawa and Gord of Victoria were in each other's pockets already, we certainly do now - now that Steve's Injustice Minister has elevated the presumably judicious Liz Bennett to the BC Court of Appeal.

Let's see, we've now paid for five years (approx.) of pre-trial gobbledy-gook before "JUDGE ONLY" Bennett(ie. no jury) and voila, judge all gone, let's just start all over! Oh to hell with it, let's just fuggit about it! It wasn't all that important anyway and it's pretty clear hardly anybody in British Columbia cares, they screamed that out, loud and clear, on Tuesday!

Oh Gordo, when will we get to vote for you again, please go after W.A.C. now, you've beaten the lessen acorn from that tree!
Good afternoon Mary!

December 7, 8, & 9, 1998

"There is increasing acknowledgement that an independent judiciary is the key to upholding the rule of law in a free society. This independence may take a variety of forms across different jurisdictions and systems of law. But the same principle always applies, namely the protection of human rights is dependent on the guarantee that judges will be free and will reasonably be perceived to be free to make impartial decisions based on the facts and the law in each case, and to exercise their role as protectors of the constitution, without any pressure or interference from other sources, especially government. This basic premise is crucial to the maintenance of the rule of law. At the same time, laws must be public knowledge, clear in meaning, and must apply to everyone equally, including the government. Unless the government subordinates itself to the law, and to the sovereignty of the people through the constitution, that government may rule by law, but its authority will not be grounded in the rule of law. Rule by law still allows governments to use their power arbitrarily to deny fundamental rights to citizens, or to cover up their own corrupt practices. Once citizens lose confidence in the fairness of the legal and political system, they may turn to other means to assert their basic rights, and inevitably this results in violence and loss of human life."

From another ongoing Ontario trial,The informant’s identity and statement are protected by a publication ban........." but in this case it involves the Mayor of Ottawa.... Breach of Trust charges.

In the Blatchford column she's laid out the history of how our justice system has gone from an open and transparent system to one that protects the defendant, almost without asking, for a ban on publications by his simply asking for a ban. Problem was, the Defense Counsel forgot to ask in that case.

Back here on the west coast, the reverse is true, it was the Government of Gordon Campbell, his Special Prosecutor, that asked for the ban on publication, not the Defense. As it turns out the Defense lawyers asked Madame Justice Bennett to open the books to which she did: "The preliminary hearings into eventual criminal court proceedings were kept sealed from the public until opened up in the public's interest, and by requests from defence council, in the fall of 2008 by the presiding justice, Elizabeth Bennett, who struck down the court ban in the grounds of the importance of an open court in regard to the importance of the case to the public interest, contrary to the objections of the government-appointed Special Prosecutor." - Wikipedia
BC Mary, I for one would love to follow up on the Blatchford case as it sounds verrrryyyy familiar!
Now there are two of us!
The Watcher
There have been a couple of high profile Breach of Trust cases in BC. Vanderzalm escaped justice; a filthy judge went to jail for it.
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